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African Marriage Rituals

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One of the main ceremonies of African marriage rituals is called Kubama. It is showing the bride to the public gathered on the evening of the marriage. It is interesting that most of the people, regardless of invitation, attend the Kubama. The ritual can be defined in any way. However, a dominant interpretation is that it is expression of the bride to show her consent to enter in the world of the women.

She is no more going to be an unmarried girl…

The entry of the bride is an interesting scene. Every participant claps and makes joyous cries to welcome the bride. She is going to be the star of night as you may see in many classic romantic movies.

The bride is expected to wear her cultural dress to make her entry in the public. Now many families may allow wearing of western style dresses under the influence of western culture.

The African marriage rituals ask for one Kubama. However, many wealthy families prefer to hold two such ceremonies. In one event the African marriage traditions are followed. In the other western styles are adopted.

Kubama is only one such ritual. Otherwise the African marriage rituals are extravagance of numerous situations, events and historical consequence. Though influence of Islam, Christianity and Western is evident yet people prefer to follow African marriage rituals to pay homage to their land.

Arranged Marriages

African marriage rituals are result of tribal interaction of the centuries. The tribal tradition has descended to the families. That’s why most of the marriages in African are still arranged by the families. It is truer in the case of noble and rich families.

The importance of families can be deciphered from the fact that even the children are considered belonging to the parents as well as the families of bride and groom.

On the other hand, the role of families in the poor families is not so important. Whatever the reasons may be, the poor families don’t heavily interfere in the marriage choices of their children.

Critics object this heavy involvement of the families. They say that this kind of involvement in nothing more than forced marriages. They insist on forced marriages by depending upon the fact that every groom in Africa has to offer a gift in cash or kind, to the family of the bride. They say that it is not a gift but a centuries old tradition of selling and purchasing of the women. They say the bride is given to the person who can afford to pay her price.

You can encounter the argument by pointing out that forced marriages have been prevalent throughout the world, during last many centuries. However, another fact can’t be ignored. In African marriage rituals, a marriage is not a union of two persons. It is taken as unification of two families. Such a bond can’t take place between a purchaser and the slave.

Furthermore, the arranged marriages take place in Asia and some other regions. They are considered a token of honor and not a symbol of cruelty. Even when the boy and the girl develop some kind of love affair, they prefer to involve their families to arrange their marriage. Even those who accomplish love-marriages, try to hide the fact from general society.

Virginity of African Brides

The African marriage rituals demand that the brides must be virgin on their first marriage. African society does not accept pre-marital sexual relations. The African women are supposed to help their husbands’ families and bring good name. In African marriage rituals the stage of child bearing comes after marriage.

There are incidents that even African society is accepting the western values. Western researchers point out such incidents and claim that many girls are losing their virginity before marriage. They even forward the argument that the girls think such pre-marital relations as a way to see sexual compatibility and fertility of the partner.

On the other hand the influences of Islam and Christianity are also admitted. None of the religions allow pre-marital relations. Muslims are strict on the issue. Islam not only prohibits such relations but also codifies certain punishments.

Lamu tribes observe this feature of the African marriage rituals even in today world. The brides are expected to be virgin before entering marriage. They consider it part of honor and chasteness.

Polygamy and Early Age Marriages

Any bride would prefer a monogamous marital relation. It not only keeps full attention of her husband but also keeps her life free from the pressure of senior wives. However, uncertified data shows that about 36% women in rural and 24% girls in urban areas have to bear with the polygamous marriages.

Some claim that polygamy is result of early age marriages. Some others claim that it is result of age gaps between bride and groom that allures the husbands to go for another marriage. Some try to blame Islam in this issue.

On the other hand, history shows that polygamy is historic feature of African marriage rituals. As far as early age of marriage is concerned, in eight out of eleven countries the likeness of teenage marriages is very little. However, it is a fact that early age marriages take place more frequently in uneducated brides. The girls who prefer schooling and career postpone their marriages till some accomplishments.

Interestingly, the educated and uneducated girls fall to polygamy equally. The educated women may even go for unsanctioned pre-marital relations with older marriages hoping that their roles as outside wives will help them advance into better social setup.

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